Social media is a powerful tool for business. It benefits companies as large as Coca-Cola and as small as your local independent coffee shop. Social media is a great way to get your content more exposure and increase traffic to your website. It can help you develop loyal fans and customers, generate leads, improve sales, and even improve search rankings.
Social media marketing is tricky, though.
Without the right strategy, you may feel like you’re shouting into the void, with no likes or followers to speak of.
Getting started doesn’t have to be overwhelming.
Follow these ten rules, and you’ll be well on your way to social media success.
10 Golden Rules For Effective Social Media Marketing
#1: There Is No One Rule To Rule Them All
People tend to talk about best practices like they talk about the “one ring.” But the fact is, there really isn’t one rule that matters more than the rest for social media.
Marketing trends are constantly changing. Plus, what works for one business may not work for you. One company’s client base may appreciate large images with inspirational quotes, whereas another’s may respond better to advice-filled blog posts.
Figuring out what social media strategy is best for you will take a lot of research, and some trial and error.
Remember: social media marketing is a long term strategy, not an instant fix. Spend time figuring out what works for you in the long run, and be ready to adapt to new information.
#2: Know What Your Followers Want
Know who your audience is.
For example, Denny’s social media accounts have a very different audience than an insurance company would. Because of that, they speak to their followers very differently. The insurance company might share advice articles or safety tips, whereas Denny’s has had a lot of success with pancake puns and breakfast pics.
Get to know your own audience’s interests. Ask yourself:
- What type of posts get the best response?
- What would your ideal customer be interested in?
- What posts help you meet your goals best? (IE: what posts lead to more sales, or lead to better brand awareness, etc.)
Understanding what your audience is interested in will help you make your social media more effective. Know what your followers want from your business, and give that to them.
#3: Make New Friends
Engagement plays a huge role in social media success. Luckily, it’s also pretty simple.
Engagement basically just means making new friends. Reach out to people and businesses. If you see a customer asking a question on Twitter, answer it. If someone on Facebook shares a photo raving about your product, thank them! If someone in your field is holding a chat session or a Q&A, join in.
Put the social in social media marketing.
#4: Share Plenty of Photos
People love a great photo, and good social media marketers know it. In 2015, 73% of marketers planned on increasing their use of visual images.
Think of it this way: people scroll through their media feeds quickly.
They’re only going to stop to look at what really grabs their attention. Because of that, a good photo is going to be more exciting than a block of text.
#5: Keep it Casual, Dude
Remember, your audience is probably in the kitchen waiting for the toaster to pop, entertaining themselves on a bus ride, or wasting time at work. There’s no need to be formal if your company is casual.
In fact, being too formal on social media can make you seem stuffy. Too much corporate jargon will turn people off. You want to be friendly and approachable.
There is an important caveat to this rule: your tone should fit with your brand image. For example, if you’re a luxury brand a formal tone might work best for you. However, a casual approach will work for most businesses.
#6: Keep it Short
You’re probably familiar with Twitter’s famous 140 character limit, but did you know that brevity matters on other social channels too?
Here are a few ideal post lengths to keep in mind:
- 40-60 characters for Facebook.
- 25 words on LinkedIn.
- 3 minutes for a Youtube video.
Short posts are appealing for the same reason that great images are.
People scroll through their social media feeds pretty fast. And unlike Ferris Bueller, they probably aren’t going to slow down to see if they’re missing anything.
#7: Don’t Forget The Hashtags
Hashtags are super easy to use, and are a great way to help you attract more followers.
Using hashtags helps you track promotions, target readers by specific interest, and start conversations with people.
You can even create your own hashtags for social media campaigns. (For example, Grow shares SEO advice once a week using the tag #SEOFridays.)
Don’t forget to do a little research on the tags you use. If you’re trying to connect with people and start new conversations, tagging your posts with popular hashtags is really helpful. On the other hand, if you’re trying to come up with a tag unique to your brand, find out if anyone else is already using it.
#8: Ask Questions
This may sound simple, but a great way to get more engagement is to ask a question.
Ask your followers for their opinions on your business. Ask for opinions on a post you shared. Ask them questions about themselves and their favorite products.
Ending a post in a question invites people to comment instead of just scrolling past. Throwing a question out to your followers can help you start meaningful conversations with them.
#9: Host Contests
People love free stuff.
Hosting a contest or giveaway is an exciting way to get people to engage with your brand and share it with their friends.
You can use a contest to help meet your goals. For example, you may use a “share this post to enter” strategy to help increase brand awareness.
#10: Monitor, Monitor, Monitor
Don’t forget to set up an easy way to monitor your social media channels. Download social media apps to your phone so you have easy access. If you don’t want to be constantly checking three different social streams, look into organizing them in one place with a tool like Hootsuite.
Social media changes really quickly, so monitoring is important. It may be tempting to schedule a bunch of social media posts for the week or month and then forget about it. Don’t neglect your accounts between posts, though.
If someone asks a question or leaves you a comment, you’ll miss it. You run the risk of missing out on new trends and important conversations.
Stay in touch. You don’t want to miss something big.
Social media is a powerful marketing tool. It’s quick and easy to set up a Twitter or Facebook account for your business. With a little more work, you can build yourself a truly successful social media marketing strategy. Remember these golden rules and you’ll be on your way to your first follower, and your next sale.